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Cosmic rays quietly damage the computers on Earth
Material posted: Publication date: 12-12-2018
In the magazine the New Yorker published an article "a Friendship that made Google great" written by some of the best programmers in Silicon valley by Jeff Dean and Sanjay ghemawat with. They're working at Google since 1999 and is the only one who is in the company of senior scientific employees — the highest level in the corporate hierarchy of developers.

In March 2000, Dean and Ghemawat was trying to figure out why Google search is missing some words — for example, there was no extradition request "email". They have converted the database with the indexed pages in the binary code and saw that the information in the computers were partially damaged. After analyzing the errors, they came to the conclusion that hard drives had a devastating effect cosmic rays — streams of charged particles at enormous speeds move in space and occasionally bombard the Earth. The sources of these rays is the Sun and a supernova.

Dean and Ghemawat insisted that Google must create a protection, which would prevent the penetration of charged particles computers. In addition, the company started to purchase more expensive and reliable equipment is the same that is used in NASA and major financial corporations.

A glitch in the search engine Google is not the only case of the devastating impact of cosmic rays on computers. For example, there is a theorythat in 2003 in the Belgian town of Vilvoorde, they caused a change in one bit of memory in the electronic voting machine, which one of the candidates was added over 4,000 votes.

The probability that a cosmic ray will cause an error in the memory of the single computer is practically zero. However, globally, these failures can occur relatively frequently, but to identify them is incredibly difficult. Charged particles affect the controllers point and can replace the zero unit (or Vice versa), which leads to a small bug that can cause problems in the huge computer systems.


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